We are inundated from all sides by data, yet what I really pay attention to are the stories. They are the anecdotes behind the ‘why’, the ‘how’, the ‘where’ and the ‘who’. They touch us emotionally in a way that facts and figures don’t, and at their core they speak to the journeys that we have faced which we can relate to in some way, shape or form.
Here are just a few of the ways that stories can be used:
The company story
I attended the recent CIX Conference and Jamie Shulman, a co-founder of Hubdoc, spoke about his relationship with his partner, how they ended up together and how they decided to start up Hubdoc. Then he described their journey. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the details but I liked him, I liked his humility and his honesty and I cared about his story line. It got me wanting to hear more and to find out about that company.
The candidate story
I sit in on scores of interviews between hiring managers and candidates. The process is all-too often the same with the hiring manager speaking too much and the candidate listing off details that can just as easily be read on the resume. Fundamentally it’s a waste of time and opportunity. If you tell stories about how you overcame challenges, or built your brand/business/reputation it galvanizes people in a way that facts and figures never can.
The sales story
Getting in front of clients becomes more difficult every day. What gets buyer’s attention is a sense of purpose in what you’re providing…and what better way to define the purpose than with stories. In Lisa Earle McLeod’s book, Selling With Noble Purpose, she shows how to position your offering in the context of a higher calling. The numbers speak for themselves:
- Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, authors of the book Built to Last, documented that organizations driven by purpose and values outperformed the market by 15:1 and outperformed comparison companies by 6:1.
- Jim Stengel revealed in Grow that businesses “who centre their business on improving people’s lives, have a growth rate triple that of their competitors, and they outperform the market by a huge margin.”
- Simon Sinek simplified the message of ‘purpose first’ for the world with his famed Start With Why book and TED talk.
The life story
I attended the funeral of my close friend’s father. He died at 97 3/4 and the majority of people who would have showed up were already long deceased. At that age, there simply aren’t many peers and friends still around.
We shared stories about his life and our experiences with him. It was sweet and charming and the process drew us all together.
Check out the story line journey above. Then go out and share your stories and watch as people listen to you in a different way. It’s really quite magical!